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Single folks in Michigan should have an estate plan in place

It is wrong to assume that only married couples with children and a significant amount of assets should worry about creating an estate plan. Any single adult who has assets in his or her name needs to ensure an estate plan is in place, and the plan needs to reflect the individual needs and wishes of that single person. While the basics may mirror the needs of any married couple in Michigan, there are unique needs a single person needs to reflect upon when creating that estate plan.

For a married couple, one party may select his or her spouse as a durable power of attorney. This kind of power of attorney is essential so day to day affairs, such as finances and bills, can be handled without fail while someone is incapacitated or unable handle such matters. For the single person, this responsibility may need to be designated to a trusted friend who can, and is, willing to make those difficult decisions, possibly under duress.  

Michigan families can avoid mistakes in estate plan

All estate plans are highly personal, yet many people fall prey to the same common mistakes when drafting their plans. By being aware of the most common mistakes found in estate plans, Michigan families can prevent those mistakes from causing problems after loved ones have passed. These common estate plan mistakes can cause a great deal of family strife and become financially painful.

One common mistake is forgetting or ignoring existing sibling rivalry. One way to counter existing rivalry or rivalry that crops up as a result of a passing is for parents to talk about the future and ensure the estate plan is known and respected before it is ever put into motion. Another mistake to avoid is forgetting to account for life changes that should be reflected in the plan. These changes can be the result of divorce, the disinheritance of a child or accommodations that may need to be made for blended families.

Prepare for the unexpected with landlord/tenant vacation homes

Owning and renting a vacation home anywhere may not be all it is cracked up to be for either the owner or the renter, especially when disputes or disagreements arise and adequate legal protection is not in place. Having clear expectations as to the landlord/tenant relationship and agreements can help stave off any disagreements between the parties. However, Michigan residents should be prepared for any challenges or obstacles that can arise regarding vacation homes and the relationship between landlords and tenants.

When it comes to vacation homes, seasonal and short-term leases need to be drafted. These can vary when compared to standard leases. A legal professional with experience handling seasonal leases can ensure the lease between a landlord and seasonal tenant is designed with exact needs in mind.

Fate of seniors on the line in landlord/tenant dispute

When a landlord decides to sell a building, the fate of those who live there can get complicated. A dispute may erupt and halt the plans if tenants feel blindsided or unfairly treated by the owner of the building. Michigan elderly who live in senior living facilities may not be immune to this type of scenario and can become the participants in a landlord/tenant dispute that results in litigation.

One case making news recently involves a landlord of a 130-room facility for seniors. The landlord has attempted to shut down the facility and sell the building for over $76 million. A plan was approved in which the residents were given three months to find a new place to go. A judge has halted the eviction of the remaining residents, which currently stands at seven tenants.

Issues regarding an inheritance need to be customized

There is no such thing as a standard estate plan or plan for dealing with an inheritance. Each family's needs are unique, and anything pertaining to an inheritance should reflect that individuality. Just as an inheritance in Michigan may need to be customized, it's also important to periodically review an existing estate plan as life changes warrant.

There are certain life circumstances that may impact an established plan for an inheritance. One may be the birth of a child or grandchild. This additional family member can mean an old plan simply out of date. A divorce in the family can also signal that it is a good time to re-evaluate an estate plan.

Unique challenges for women and their estate plan

Not all estate plans are alike, just as no two women are alike. The process of creating an estate plan is highly personal for anyone, and women may have unique challenges as they move forward with that process. Michigan women who have not created an estate plan or who have not recently updated that plan may want to explore their options, as the process of estate planning can be different for women than it is for men.

One noted statistic can play a significant role in any plan that is created: Women typically live longer. This means they may be left to distribute shared assets among children as opposed to the male partner who may have already passed. When it comes to personal items such as jewellery, leaving jewellery to beneficiaries may get complicated unless each piece is inventoried and specifically left to a certain beneficiary in order to have what is considered a fair distribution.

Business owners need an estate plan early in the game

An individual or family may work for years or even generations to establish a successful small business. If the owner or owners fail to have a comprehensive and smart estate plan in place early on, that small business can be at risk for failure in the event that an owner or invested partner passes away. Statistically, only a small percentage of family businesses are passed down to the next generation successfully. With the right estate plan in place before it is needed, a Michigan family can beat those odds.

The first instinct of a business owner who wants to keep that business in the family may be to split it evenly among children. But, if one or more of the adult children have never worked or contributed to the business, this arrangement can do more harm than good. This can easily lead to family strife and legal disputes among family members.

Avoid probate litigation with legal assistance at time of need

Once a loved one passes, the ensuing process of probate can either be smooth or it can be contentious and lead to family strife. With the proper guidance and legal assistance, the probate process does not have to become a probate litigation situation for grieving Michigan families. Legal assistance can help with all areas of probate and can ensure that minor details are taken care of so families can move forward.

These details involve much more than just overseeing who gets what as far as assets and beneficiaries are concerned. Any tax issues plaguing the estate or the deceased need to be handled legally and quickly. Also, a complete inventory of assets needs to be done regardless of whether or not there may be a family dispute over those assets.

How to pass down a family's business legacy

For family-owned businesses, issues of succession form the center of all estate planning efforts. The manner in which a business is handed down differs for every family, and there is no such thing as a one-size fits-all legacy solution. When addressing the issue, Michigan families should take the time to sit down with their loved ones and discuss the matter at length.

The first thing to consider is whether any of the children are willing and able to take on ownership of the business once the parent or parents are deceased. In cases in which one or more children do not have an interest in being involved in the business, the estate plan becomes far more complicated. Because parents usually want to leave their children equal inheritances, a degree of number-crunching is in order.

Will you leave your ex an unexpected inheritance?

For many Michigan residents, the primary purpose of estate planning is to ensure that their loved ones are looked after, and that assets are passed down in the manner of one's choosing. This process rarely includes making provisions for a former spouse. Even so, many people will unexpectedly leave their ex husbands or wives an inheritance. At the same time, those loved ones who were intended to receive that wealth might be shocked to find that they have very little chance of reversing that outcome.

This scenario occurs when there is a difference between what is laid out within an individual's will and what is stated within certain account documents. When an investment, savings or life insurance account contains a designated beneficiary, that person will receive the assets held within the account or policy at the time of death. This is true regardless of what is stated within one's estate planning documents.

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